What was your main inspiration for the painting, New Life?
In 2017, I had the privilege of being the Artist in Residence at Gettysburg National Military Park. I got to stay on one of the farms that were there during the battle. It was eerie and also a very spiritual time as I reflected on the conflict of war, loss, family, and so much death. It made me think about how we are still walking these same tensions today even as a major election is looming in a few days. I think about how this could cause more hurt and pain (and pray it doesn’t).
During the evenings when all the tourist cars were gone from the battlefield, I liked to walk out in these fields where almost 40,000 men lay dead after the three-day battle (the largest battle ever fought in the western hemisphere). I would walk and pray, walk, and pray. My favorite time was when the light was fading over the fields and the light was moving over the landscape. Fireflies would come out around that time and it looked like a moving field of stars.
I felt so strongly that I should make this painting recently as we moved into such divisiveness with politics. It’s a battlefield of old. One with so much loss and sorrow. The world would tell us there are only two ways to think, to be in this country. I believe, there is always a third way. The way of the spirit, the way of beauty, and love. In a way, it remakes the battlefield. Not to forget its lessons but to reimagine a new landscape together with God.
If you could describe the painting in 4 words, what would those 4 words be? Why?
Look with Spiritual Eyes.
Because when we see with the Spirit we no longer see with anger or despair. We see what God is doing “undercover.” In fact, He always has a plan and it is a beautiful one. I think if we choose to see that way we will have an easier time loving our neighbor (no matter what they say or think). Please know I don’t mean that we should just passively let people bully us or not take a stand for things we believe in. Not at all. But it does mean I don’t see this world as Us vs. Them. I see “WE THE PEOPLE” who are under a God who loves and is reshaping us. God is always up to good.
Let’s have eyes to see it and hearts that are humble enough to be changed.
How has this experience changed you?
I don’t paint anything I’m not also wrestling with. I don’t ever want to make art from a place of “I know better than you…” But instead, sit in this place of tension (whatever that might be) and just let the Lord speak in my heart. So many of us hate tension. I know I do. However, without it, no change is good for us. I think 2020 has shown me that I really can’t control anything. Not my kids, my health, those I love.
Shoot, I can’t even guarantee that there will be toilet paper in the grocery store! Remember that? But I can say that it is through pain that we really see what we believe. Not just head knowledge stuff. But WHOM I really love. Everything is God’s. May my life be like these tiny fireflies…a little light on ground zero. A way of saying, “I love you, Lord! You have my heart’s attention.”
What is your hope/prayer for those who see your work?
I pray for many neighbors I don’t even know that they might be loved WHERE THEY ARE. That they might see the beauty God covers them with even in their loss, grief, fear, hurt. I pray that they see Love is real and it’s worth living for. I hope that we have a better place to leave our children, all children. Not just ones that look like me.
I suppose if there was hope for what others would see in my work it would be a glimpse of something more…more than nature, more than a tree or a field. But a tiny snapshot of LIFE even in this place of death. I only know of one that brings life from death and it’s not me. 🙂 It’s a good God who is for us and has never left us.
For more information about Dawn Waters Baker and to view more of her amazing work, please visit her website: http://www.dawnsartsite.com.